In a world becoming increasingly integrated with technology, conversation is becoming a thing of the wayside. Relationships that were based on conversation in the past are now virtual, to the point that we may feel we know people as well as some of our good friends having never met them.
When we speak to each other, we speak in sarcasm, metaphors, and idioms. We personify, hyperbolize, and stretch the truth to create lively conversation. This figures of speech spark emotions and reactions that build trust, depth, and value in a relationship in ways reading text simply can’t. And so when we strip verbal, face-to-face communication and replace it with text and virtual learning, we simply can’t get as much out of our relationships and friendships as we could in the past.
The number one cause of mental illness in Canadian Universities in 2013 was loneliness. I can only assume that this is caused from the false representation of ourselves on social media, and the lack of traditional communication. The way we post about our daily lives isn’t a proper reflection on the days we live, but more of a highlight reel that shows our followers who we are and how we live.
When it comes to education, the most powerful exercises are those where young students have the opportunity to talk and learn with each other. The problem solving that occurs during this time of action and reaction simple can’t be matched. As one student makes a mistake, calculations are being made and expressions are read from the other people in the group that may teach them more than the teacher ever could. This experience, conversation and interaction is invaluable and cant be replaced.
Too often we hear about a shift in technology to be more focused on an ipad format, where students can grow and learn at their own pace. Though this is very valuable, the interaction between students proves to be incredibly important in the development of social skills.
As students move from the younger grades and into high school and university, it becomes less about the conventional learning, and more about the development of friendships. A recent study by mobileinsurance.com has revealed that the average person spends 90 minutes a day on their phone, which may not seem like too much, but when we think about it closely, it means that over 10% of a typical day would be looking at the screen. Thinking back 10-15 years ago, these phones didn’t exist and we had 10% of not only our day, but our year back as well. This suddenly becomes a staggering statistic all of the sudden.
What is scarier, is that these statistics are now considered old. While the U.S. did not lead global markets in terms of amount of time spent on social media networks, it was far and away the highest consumer of monthly data, spending the most time per day on their phones with a staggering 4.7 hours. Considering that the average American is awake for just over 15 hours a day (seeing as we sleep for an average of eight hours and 42 minutes), this means that we spend approximately a third of our time on our phones. Sure, using your smartphone isn’t mutually exclusive with completing other activities, but still, 4.7 hours is a significant chunk of the day.
Conversations can’t be replaced. We’re losing the way we communicate and people are suffering as a result. Yes, the cat video was hilarious, but was it worth losing (or failing to make) a friend over?